Bengals face early road work in 2005 schedule
Bengals face early road work
By Chick Ludwig
Dayton Daily News
CINCINNATI | The NFL didn't do the Bengals many favors in the scheduling department for the 2005 season.
In addition to playing four of their first six games on the road, including the Sept. 11 opener at Cleveland, the Bengals were denied a spot on ABC's Monday Night Football and only get one prime-time game — an ESPN Sunday-nighter at Jacksonville on Oct. 9.
The Bengals enjoyed two nationally televised home games in 2004 — beating Miami, 16-13, on Sunday, Sept. 19, and Denver, 23-10, on Monday, Oct. 25.
The good news: The Bengals get a Week 10 bye (Nov. 13).
The Bengals need the break to prepare for a crucial four-week stretch. They face Indianapolis before meeting AFC North Division foes Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cleveland in a row. The only road game in that span is Dec. 4 at Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati will face four playoff teams — Pittsburgh (twice), Minnesota, Green Bay and Indianapolis — and four of those five games are at home.
But the difficult early-season schedule, with road games at Cleveland, Chicago, Jacksonville and Tennessee sandwiched around home games against Minnesota (Sept. 18) and Houston (Oct. 2), puts pressure on the Bengals to avoid yet another slow start.
"Your schedule always presents its own set of challenges, and we'll have to be ready to meet them early on the road," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. "The good news is that by meeting that challenge, we gain an edge down the stretch with home-field advantage.
"I'm disappointed for our fans that we don't have a national television game at home. ... But this schedule provides us our opportunities to earn those spots again next year."
Schedule odds and ends
• Hot ticket: The Oct. 30 game against Green Bay features a possible final Cincinnati appearance by Packers future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre.
• Numbers game: The combined 2004 record of the Bengals' 2005 opponents is 134-122 (.523), including each division opponent twice.
• Friday night lights: All four preseason games are on Friday night with home games against New England (Aug. 12) and Indianapolis (Sept. 2).
Contact Chick Ludwig at 225-2253.